The question was direct, if exceptionally parochial: Would George Mason coach Paul Hewitt be reaching out to his counterparts at Georgetown (John Thompson III) and Maryland (Mark Turgeon) about the occasional local game.
“I think those type of series would be great for the local community, but we’ll see,” Hewitt said. “I don’t want John opening the paper going ‘What?’”
Then he laughed, a well-earned chuckle for navigating a query both completely fair and tricky at the same time.
Hewitt’s first schedule at George Mason includes a place in an NIT pod at Virginia Tech and a trip to Virginia. There’s also the 18-game CAA slate.
Scheduling choices were part of Hewitt’s six-week self-analysis between his firing at Georgia Tech and hiring at Mason. At times (notably in 2007-08, the year after Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton left after a season), the Yellow Jackets faced headaches based on a loaded nonconference schedule.
“Scheduling is a two-way street,” Hewitt said. “When I evaluated everything, that’s one area I have to be —- I don’t want to say careful —- but much more deliberative about. You can schedule yourselves out of contention. College basketball is not like the NFL where there’s a set schedule.”
There are also different challenges when you’re at a school that (a) can’t buy a bunch of home games every year and (b) might not be someone a high-profile school wants to risk facing in the regular season.
“There’s a right way to do it for your program and a wrong way to do it for your program,” Hewitt said. “Hopefully, we’ll find the right way and it gives us the necessary national exposure, the strength of schedule to get a look from the NCAA if we’re not fortunate enough to win the CAA tournament but also at the same time excite your players about coming to play for you.”
—- Patrick Stevens